Secondhand books, city TV, Heery contract go before Augusta commissioners

Thieves who try to sell stolen books in Augusta wouldn’t have to give a thumbprint or get their picture taken, but they would be videotaped and checked for ID by used book dealers, according to a revised secondhand goods ordinance going before Augusta commissioners today.

The changes were sought by 2nd and Charles, which worked with the city law office to get the revisions made, according to Commissioner Donnie Smith.

Under the proposal, book buyers and sellers would be subject to most regulations for other used goods dealers. Those requirements include requiring ID, videotaping and logging transactions and the seller’s home address and place of work, paying a regulatory fee and retaining items for a holding period.

The book dealers are exempt from taking the seller’s thumbprint and photo so long as they provide the sheriff’s office with gross receipts showing books are at least 60 percent of their annual sales as well as videotape all transactions, retaining them for 60 days.

“I hope they’re going to buy me the equipment to do this,” said David Hutchinson, owner of the downtown Book Tavern.

While Smith said 2nd and Charles sought the changes to avoid taking thumbprints, Hutchinson said he was unaware the ordinance addressed used book dealers. The merchant said he occasionally has books stolen from his store, but was unaware the sale of stolen books was a larger problem.

The Richmond County Sheriff’s Office was closed Monday and calls to 2nd and Charles owner Books-a-Million weren’t answered.

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IN OTHER ACTION

Committee items require approval by the full commission to pass. Other agenda items going before commission committees Tuesday include:

• Implementing an Augusta Government Channel on cable, at a start-up cost of $171,850 and annual cost of $90,052.

• An automatic aid agreement with the city of Hephzibah, said to lower the fire insurance premiums for residents who live within five miles of Hephzibah’s fire station.

• A $4 million “task order program” for Augusta Utilities to pay three selected contractors - Blair Construction, Eagle Utility and Quality Stormwater Solutions to perform on-call repairs, maintenance, emergency work and other necessary tasks.

• A $385,911 contract with Heery International to manage renovations at the former downtown main library, despite reservations held by several commissioners earlier this year about the firm’s high billing rates and donation of Atlanta Falcons and Braves tickets to commissioners and certain community events. The maximum price is based on 3,438 hours of work over three years performed by Heery and subconsultants, Dukes Edwards Dukes and Gallop and Associates. The hourly rates include $56.76 for administrative work, $143.57 for program management and $167.29 for Gallop’s work as a community liasion.

The full commission also has a 3 p.m. work session Tuesday to further study the proposed 2014 budget, which includes an $8.5 million shortfall. Commissioners are scheduled to review the proposal in detail and consider items such as raises for all city staff, taking money from savings, raising taxes or levying an excise tax on manufacturers to replace revenue lost through a new sales tax exemption.

TOPIC PAGE: Augusta-Richmond County Commission

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